The state of the world: is it too late for sustainability?

April 29, 2013 • Climate Change & Mitigation, Protection of Species, Daily Email Recap

The state of the world: is it too late for sustainability?

There is plenty of evidence of ecological strain and so far the response has mostly been denial or ignorance. But trouble is coming and we need to respond now.


In November 2012, the “big four” professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers released a report that concluded it was too late to hold the future increase in global average temperatures to just two degrees Celsius. “It’s time,” the report announced, “to prepare for a warmer world”.


The same month, the World Bank released Turn Down the Heat, which soberly set forth why a four-degree warmer world must be avoided. Meanwhile, accounts of myriad emerging calamities were easy to find in the press: the failure of the Rio+20 talks to result in positive action, “zombie” coral reefs, calls for higher birth rates, declining Arctic sea ice, an approaching “state shift” in the earth’s biosphere, and other evidence of strain in natural systems and of human blindness, ignorance or denial.


Clearly, trouble is coming. There are, however, better responses to it than stockpiling canned goods and weaponry – an image broadcast in shows such as Preppers UK. In view of humanity’s lack of foresight and the absence of political will to address the array of sustainability problems ahead, we asked some notable thinkers to ponder what we might do to respond to our predicament in our newest annual report, State of the World 2013. The answers were so important that we devoted a final section to them, “Open In Case of Emergency.”


Just as fire extinguishers are placed in buildings in case there is a fire, the time has come to start preparing for the ecological transition (or what some call the long emergency) already built into our future. In other words, let’s not wait until the fires erupt to install fire extinguishers, as it’ll be too late then.


To read the full essay, please click here:

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